Friday, October 31, 2014

Around South County: On #Halloween, #Elections & Other Brief Thoughts

Elections are before us.   Orange County and South Orange County is no different.    The Registrar of Voters team under the leadership of Neal Kelley has been hard at work gearing up for the elections.  Earlier today, a training class was held for Coordinators who will be part of the team that will administer 1135 Polling Sites throughout Orange County.     We will be commenting on the elections and its' aftermath in lieu of some very crucial races in South County that is before us--including the very tight race for County Supervisor, open Council Cities in major South County cities in addition to a very hotly contested race for the Capistrano Unified School Board.

It was also ever so gratifying to see the spirit of Halloween ever so vibrant throughout South County as Children and their parents pounded the pavement and went on Tricking & Treating!!    May the spirit of Halloween endure ever more.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Around Town in South County (10/30/2014): On the elections; trailmasters & Other Thoughts.....

It is the eve of Halloween here in South Orange County.  It is also election eve.   Last minute electioneering has been going on non-stop by all candidates countywide and especially in South Orange County.

Beyond electioneering, though, the vibrancy of the Community has continued in ever so ways.  One example of it was the momentous day that was organized by Laguna Niguel's' Trailmasters:  Troop 772.    This was quite an achievement and some of the key highlights was underscored by the Troop 772 Committee Chair in her comments to the Trailmasters Community: 

·         It took 48 MB Counselors and volunteers to pull off this MB Day – 11 adults did not even have Scouts participate in the event!  
·         We ended up with 225 Registered Scouts from 77 different units scattered around southern California
·         We actually served 202 Scouts because 23 did not show-up
·         We extended 5 scholarships
·         We served 4 special needs Scouts
·         We helped one Scout earn his 139th Merit Badge (he came from the Pasadena area – he has attended 5 of our MB Days)
·         We had 3 First Aid cases:  One Trading Post Staff, who will remain nameless had superficial laceration to a the index finger (a regular MB Day occurrence), one Scout complaining about a sore eye (he had rubbed it with dirty hands – he was fine after washing it with water and eye drops), one vegetarian Scout who ate the pasta dish with meat rather than the vegetarian version. He ended up with an upset stomach/vomiting
·         We were complimented by the LDS Church members for leaving-no-trace! 
·         We received numerous verbal compliments from parents of Scouts for running one of the best events in southern California. 

This underscores how the vibrancy of Community Action Plans can truly make a difference by embracing all and appreciating all.     We also had a chance to be privy to another Community Organization that has sprung up as a result of a vision that one Teacher had to make a difference i the lives of Students that has evolved into the Orange County Debate League.    We look forward to commenting on it soon as we also hope to comment on some of the upcoming on-going events here in South Orange County as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

and Happy Halloween to all!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On Giving Back: Brief Personal Thoughts

#GivingTuesday is on December 2 this year.      I had a chance to begin this early yesterday when I decided to facilitate delivery of recycled bottles and cans for Aliso Viejo Middle School to the local recycling center.    What has happened is that due to the statewide fraud, the California Regulator--Cal Recycle--has mandated that all sites must be certified.   

I have been ever so amazed by how our wonderful Falcon Community has been ever so supportive of this initiative.    Since the school began, we were able to garner about 140 pounds which yielded around $ 209 for our school.  It was not much--but it was about a broader purpose to do what we can when we can to make a difference.   I admit it was not easy to load up 140 Lbs onto a Van, unload it, sort it and wait for young Joseph at the Recycling Center to go through each, weigh it and run it through his crushing machine.     But, as I reflected upon that day, I could not help but be inspired by this admonition from Churchill that the folks at #GivingTuesday shared in their call to action for those of us who have committed to this cause:

Beyond the wonderful support of the School Community, it was also gratifying to see how the local Home Depot Team was so amenable to donate the Van Rental.   An embrace of this was ever so welcome as they did it with a smile.   All can effect change and make a difference if they so choose--and this was a community coming together to make a difference for the School and the Environment.   The challenge, of course, is to continue sustaining it.   

Monday, October 20, 2014

On the "Prowl" In South County Over the Week-End: People Making A Difference

This was a very interesting week in Orange County.   In the City of Irvine, "Over The Edge" was an event organized by the Boy Scouts of America to support the Scouting Program in Orange County (Photo Source: The Daily Pilot

Two participants in the Over the Edge experience come down the side of the Irvine Marriott hotel on Friday. Rappellers were asked to raise $1,000 each to benefit the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

The MS 150 was also held in South Orange County.  The adventure began at the Irvine Train Station to help raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis.    From discussions with folks on the trail in Laguna Niguel, it is an event that features some 2,000 bikers that begin in Irvine and end in Carlsbad.  It helps to raise some 300,000 Dollars annually to eradicate this debilitating disease.  Part of the challenge was to climb up Pacific Island Drive in Laguna Niguel--those who decided to take the challenge were entitled to receive a commemorative jacket.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

On the Prowl in South County (10/17/2014): On #Aliso Viejo, the Great Shakeout & Other Thoughts

We here @ "Outsiders" joined the 2014 State of the City Address at the Aliso Viejo Town Center on October 16.   The Mayor, Phil Tsunoda, shared a number of key statistics which was of note: 

  • 1st City as noted in a recent edition of the Orange County Register Book of Lists
  • 4th Safest City in California for Cities under 200,000 people
The sense of pride as exemplified by the "Aliso Proud" Fans was evident.   The City boasts a number of major businesses and some of the leading public schools for Capistrano Unified are located in the District.    In addition, the City's report reflected a number of creative initiatives  as a Homeless Liaison Officer to facilitate assistance to the homeless and the creation of a Tracking Automated and Graffiti Reporting System.  

The audience was also engaged by the Mayor as he led the audience in a combination  Jeopardy/Who Wants to be a Millionaire Game which in turn yielded some fabulous gift cards from local businesses.     The event was sponsored by the Aliso Viejo Chamber of Commerce which boosts some 170 Businesses since it was formed around 3 years ago according to its' President.    At this event, Community Leaders (both young and old) were honored and the 2014 Citizen of the Year and Youth of the Year were both named.  

This week also saw the Great California Shakeout.   Schools throughout South Orange County participated in the exercise.  As noted by the Principal at Aliso Viejo Middle School, "..students  practiced drop, cover, and hold and then evacuate to the blacktop for a disaster drill and will not be answering the phones until the drill is over...."  It was emphasized during guidance to families that, " part of our School Safety Plan, in the event of a real emergency, students will only be released to the parents and/or other adults listed as emergency contacts for the student.  If you have not done so, please ensure that all of your information has been updated through parent portal. You should assume that in an actual emergency, telephone communication may not be possible and should make plans in advance with friends and neighbors to help retrieve your children. "    For more information please visit:

The City of Laguna Niguel will also be holding a readiness exercise on October 18 that would be focused on the set up of an incident command system in the event the Community has to be faced with the calamity.    In Earthquake Country, it is not a question of if--but when.    

Friday, October 10, 2014

On the Prowl in South County (10/9/2014): On the Great Park, Elections & Other Thoughts

It was a bit of a challenging week for the County's Local Paper, the Register as it had to send out an apology email to its' subscribers and try and figure out a debt it owed to the LA Times for $ 3.5 Million Dollars:

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Although we here @ "Outsiders" have been concerned about some of the coverage by The Register within the broader South County Region,  we wish The Register much success as it continues its' efforts to navigate what is clearly an extremely challenging Newspaper Publishing Business as it recently sold its' Headquarters on a lease-Buy Back Deal.

It is also with great interest as the Register has been busy during the last month of the Campaign here in South County with its'  endorsements of candidates throughout the County and with a special focus on South County as it announced a number of key endorsements this Week for the City of Laguna Niguel and the City of Lake Forest.   It is great to see the exposure of the candidates that subscribe to the the Libertarian/Small Government View that the Register has espoused ever since since it was founded.     Yet, it is of note that the Register reported in its' October 7 edition on of Orange County workers are falling behind due to a mismatch in tranings.    How this report reconciles with the "Small Government" view that the Register holds and many aspiring office holders aspire to remains an open question.   Hopefully this report will serve as a wake-up call for a transformation of partnership to help create the next generation which will continue the transformation process for Orange County.

Not withstanding such challenges, it is always gratifying to be witness to be witness to communtiy service.      On October 17, Boy Scouts of America Orange County Council is sponsoring an Over the Edge Exciting event at the Irvine Marriott to help with the on-going efforts of the Council to support the youth of Orange County.     It is a part of a nationwide initiative to support Boy Scouts nationally.   The Scouts are also spreaheading Scouting for Food in Support of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County .   Second Harvest  distributes over 400,000 lbs of Food to the needy in Orange County and this support is needed ever more.

This week also saw another Orange County Landmark be relegated to the dustbin of history:   The Great Park Runways were demolished--many in South Orange County have fond memories of having walked them during the annual Air Shows and visits.    It will be a place to remember though especially as the Veterans Cemetery at the Great Park will be part of the legacy--and Governor Brown was in Orange County to check things out this week.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Around South County (10/1/2014): On Election, An Oasis of Love & Other Thoughts as A New Quarter Dawns.... 
South Orange County is in the midst of election fever ever more.    All Registered Voters should have received their sample ballots and all absentee ballots should be receiving their ballots soon.    Although some of the local coverage has not been as vibrant, it will still be an exciting race to the finish.    The top two candidates for 5th District Supervisor, Robert Ming & Lisa Bartlett, are at it as Laguna Niguel has six leading citizens vying for the two open seats on the Council:

Beyond the on-going political change in the air here in South County, we also have cause to celebrate.   One of them is what we view as an "Oasis of Love" that we had a chance to tour this week:

Second Harvest Food Bank is an organization that is at the forefront of eradicating hunger in Orange County.    They have initiated a number of very innovative ideas (including the Farm & engaging ideas with the youth) that shows how they are at the foreOn a side note, we are also pleased to report on an initiative done earlier within our Community.    One major initiative that will commence in earnest during October is Scouting for Food throughout South Orange County.

As the new Month dawned, we were also pleased to see this reported out in the Orange County Register on the Michael Chang Tennis Classic.  This fabulous event was eld in Newport Beach over the summer and raised $90,000 to support local charities.   It was especially gratifying to see that HomeAid Orange County received $ 60,000 and $ 30,000 was given to the Michael Change Foundation for its' on-going community work.   We here @ Outsiders had the pleasure to join this day of service and support it.

So much to be thankful for as a New Quarter Dawns......